The claim: Ginger ale helps an upset stomach.
The facts: Studies have found that ginger and ginger extracts can be effective for alleviating some types of nausea and vomiting, such as that related to pregnancy and following surgery, attributed to compounds, called gingerols, which may have anti-inflammatory and other soothing effects in the gastrointestinal tract. Doses used in studies have ranged from 250 milligrams to 1 gram, taken one to four times a day.
But ginger’s effectiveness for other stomach woes is less supported by research. Even if ginger does have benefits, that doesn’t mean ginger ale is an effective natural remedy. While some major brands of ginger ale, such as Canada Dry, do actually contain ginger extract (listed as “natural flavors” on the label), soda manufacturers won’t reveal the exact amounts—which are likely to be quite small—since it is considered proprietary information.
Still, many people find ginger ale, whether consumed flat or carbonated, to be soothing, possibly—at least in part—simply because they have used it as a remedy since childhood and perceive it to work. (On the other hand, some people find that any kind of carbonated beverage increases heartburn.) Assuming ginger helps tummy problems, tea made with real ginger would be a better choice. Simply pour boiling water over freshly grated ginger; commercial ginger teas are also available.